Marketing automation is essentially a set of tools and capabilities that allow for automated, triggered events such as email, lead scoring, or content programs. Sometimes marketing automation functionality is present alongside a CRM platform, and other times a system that works alone is more appropriate. Marketing automation can definitely take your law firm’s digital marketing strategy to the next level, but it’s not always easy to know where to start, especially with over 8,000 automation solutions to choose from.
In this post, I’ll cover several factors to consider when comparing different marketing automation platforms. These factors will ultimately help you make a more confident and informed decision about the future of your law firm’s tech stack.
Why should law firms invest in a marketing automation platform?
Marketing automation uses online software to automatically execute tedious marketing tasks, like sending emails, growing your database, and collecting data to help drive your strategy. Although it’s commonly known for making the lives of digital marketers easier, it also helps your law firm scale its business.
Related: Is Marketing Automation for the Legal Industry Worth the Investment?
Law firm marketing automation platforms to consider
The first step in deciding on the right marketing automation platform for your law firm is to document your current capabilities and also gaps that need to be addressed. Think about your future-state and what automation features would make that state possible.
With thousands of marketing automation solutions available, it can be difficult to choose the right one for your law firm. Because the buyer’s journey and sales cycle differ between law firms and other types of businesses, some platforms may lack the tools and features you need to manage the client lifecycle.
Start your research by examining marketing automation tools that have a specific solution for law firms. To assist your process, check out our past blog post: Top 7 Marketing Automation Tools for Law Firms.
Then, use the following factors to guide your evaluation process and help you make the best purchase decision.
5 Factors to Consider When Choosing the Right Marketing Automation Platform
1. User interface
Most platforms claim to be easy to use, but it’s important to make sure that’s true. Ask for a demo and look for clear navigation. How many steps does it take to complete an action? Did you have to jump through multiple hoops to complete a simple task? Get a feel for how simple using the system will be.
A learning curve often exists when jumping onto a new platform. So, make sure you’re able to test the user interface of the platform to determine how quickly you’ll be able to get up to speed – and get to work.
2. Learning resources available
Online resources can help you to get the most out of your new system. Get an understanding of how up to date these resources are, how easy they are to access, and if they can teach your team valuable things that will improve their use of the product. Most platform training resources are free and easily accessible online, but this may not always be the case.
3. Set-up and onboarding support
You will definitely need some help getting up and running on a new system. How much support companies offer should play a role in what you choose. Are there setup or onboarding fees? Can someone come onsite or will everything happen remotely? Ask these questions and ensure you feel comfortable with how the solution will be rolled out.
Pricing structures will differ from platform to platform, but most will have a certain price per number of contacts. When researching pricing for different platforms, ask yourself:
- What is the base price of the platform and how many contacts can you have? Pricing will be based on the size of your database and pricing models are usually in tiers of 1,000.
- How quickly could your contact database scale? Use past data to see how fast your database has grown. This can give you insight into how much you might need to pay in the future.
- What features or benefits impact the pricing? You may be able to get a cheaper price or cheaper version of the platform if you don’t need all features.
5. CRM compatibility
It’s important to consider how a new solution will mesh with what you already use. Does the system you’re looking at integrate with current technologies? This will make it easier to connect and transfer data across your existing platforms. In other words, you want to be able to set up your automated lead and email nurturing campaigns that are based on your contact’s website activity. For example, HubSpot CRM is a tool that combines contact management with marketing workflows and other automation tools.
Related: 8 Must-Have Marketing Automation Workflows for Law Firms
Create a list of vendors and then filter that list down to a short one of no more than 3.
Put together a list of possible solutions and document information about them such as company size, implementation time, and customer reviews. To get a more authentic review of the platform, use outside review sites such as G2’s Marketing Automation Software Comparison. G2 is a trustworthy source that encourages peer reviews and star ratings of business technology products. Use this research to filter through your different options and develop a short list of 3 or less vendors.
Begin the sales process with the short list of vendors.
Once you’ve established a short list, you can begin to engage with the marketing automation vendors and gain more information that will help you to make a decision. Start by calling their sales reps and discerning if they are a fit for your organization. Send them your list of functional requirements and ask them to work directly from that list, checking off what their solution offers and making notes where necessary. Schedule a demo with those that meet the functional requirements. It’s worth noting that you’ll probably need two demos to feel adequately informed, so this will be the first.
Take your time evaluating the solutions internally.
Make sure you’re giving your team adequate time to consider options. In our experience, it takes at least 2 weeks to go through all of the above steps. Scheduling can also be tricky and your team undoubtedly has other work to do too, so we recommend planning on about 4 weeks
It is a time-consuming and sometimes labor-intensive process to choose new marketing technology, but following an intentional and careful process will ensure you make the right choice and get the most from your investment. If you simply don’t have that time, or could benefit from working with a partner who has gone through this process many times, reach out to us for help. We help firms assess their options and choose the best marketing technologies for their practice. We also help firms with their onboarding processes to make sure they are fully leveraging their systems.